Pay Attention!

Recently we have been talking about attentiveness in our family worship.  The lessons are derived from Proverbs 4.  “My son, be attentive to my words; incline your ear to my sayings.  Let them not escape from your sight; keep them within your heart,” (vv. 20-21, ESV).  The main point of the lessons is to listen with the ears, the eyes, and the heart.

What a wonderful bit of wisdom that is!  Very rarely do we listen from one of those, let alone all three!  Let’s break that down and see what it would look like though.

Listen with the ears.  First, we really ought to hear what the person is saying to us.  In this case, the person is Solomon, father of the boy whom he desires to pay attention.  In our case, it could be a spouse, a supervisor, a friend, a foe, or a teacher.  Active listening is difficult, but it is something in which we all need to grow.  Hearing the other person, really hearing them is key.  Rather than daydreaming, hopping on a thought train, or coming up with our response, we need to hear the other person’s words as they enter into our ears, go down into the canal, mess with the anvil, hammer, and the stirrup, to the cochlea onto the nerve and into the brain.  Paying attention to the words of a person is critical if we hope to gain wisdom and keep from looking like a fool.  How often have we misunderstood someone and acted the fool because we really weren’t listening to what they were saying? For me, too often than I care to admit.

Listen with the eyes.  Second, we must keep our eyes attentive in what we are doing.  If someone is listening, then pay attention to their facial expressions and body language.  This is why emails and texting are bad forms of communication. We need to see the expressions and movements to formulate what is truly being said.  But also, being attentive with the eyes is toward the reading of instructions or the imitating of actions.  I remember as a kid receiving a math quiz.  We had one minute to complete it.  I looked it over and it was so simple a first grader could do it.  I finished it in less than a minute.  I turned it in and got a zero.  I didn’t read the instructions.  If I had, I would have seen that every problem was the opposite.  Addition was to be subtraction and multiplication was to be division, etc.  That didn’t teach me to read instructions apparently because a year or so later I got another quiz.  This time it was difficult.  I started getting out my scratch paper to do problems.  Suddenly, students all around me were turning in their work.  What’s going on?  I looked at the instructions: “Wait five minutes; do no work.  Turn quiz in.”  Paying attention with the eyes is needed.  Pride keeps us from being ocularly attentive.  I know what I’m supposed to do; no need to read the instructions or imitate those who have gone before me.  Foolhardy.

Listen with the heart.  Finally, we need to make sure that we are attentive with our hearts.  This is often where young adults and teenagers who have spent their lives in church are most vulnerable.  They have heard with their ears and eyes perhaps, but they have simply mimicked the religion of their parents.  They have never actually paid attention with their hearts.  They have never really heard the message and made it their own.  When they get out from mom and dad’s house and protection, what was taken to heart, but buried deep down, finds a chance to rise up.  This doesn’t just happen to young adults; it can happen to anyone.  Going through the motions is something we all must fight against.  We must listen with our hearts.

So let us be attentive with our ears, our eyes, and our hearts.  If any of those areas are missed, foolishness can get the better of us.

So let’s hear from you.  Do you have any moments of foolishness because of a lack of listening or attentiveness?  Comment below.  I’d love to know that I’m not the only one.

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